Man, oh man, do I loathe when people refer to their fitness history as a “journey”. Open any health or fitness magazine and you’re bound to find it. It’s always a picture of some chiseled dude standing shirtless in a park, or some model-esque woman with her hair pulled into a tight ponytail. There’s always some quote that is almost impossible to believe next to their smiling mug.
“I weighed more than a Chevy Astro, that’s when I knew it was time.”
Fitness as a Journey
For me, fitness never felt like a journey, it felt like a guided tour of the Grand Canyon. The pace has always been slow and the guides have been plenty. There are snake oil salesman aplenty in the world of fitness, hundreds of “one weird little tricks” and dudes who doctors seem to “absolutely hate!”. And boy, did I follow them all.
What I’ve Learned
Over the course of the last 10 years that I’ve actually cared about fitness, I’ve followed every type of fitness false prophet. I’ve heard it all – from the dude on TV screaming about how his DVD set is an absolute steal at 7 payments of $39.95, to the guy who lived across the street and first explained “muscle confusion” to me. Did I follow all of it? Nah, of course not. But did I at least listen? I did. And you’d be surprised what you can learn from years of listening to the talking heads.
You learn quickly that not everyone is out to scam you out of money, a lot of these folks generally want to help. The problem is that they underestimate what the average or even novice athlete is capable of. They figure that if you’re willing to sit for 15 minutes and hear about how drinking two cans of Red Bull after a workout helps with “protein activation” that you probably don’t know what HIIT is, or what a proper squat should look like. You end up getting a lot of BS pseudo-philosophical phrases and a list of the second-rate exercises. They figure even you, the guy who is actually taking the time to listen, cannot mess up this advice. You come to find that everyone is really eager to teach until they start to consider how daunting it is once they find someone willing to learn.
Life (and weight) Has Its Ups and Downs
I’ve struggled with my weight all of my life, and by struggled I mean that I’ve gone through phases where I’ve cared enough to do something and I’ve had periods where I’ve been too lazy to attack the problem. At one point, I ballooned to 60+ pounds above the ideal weight for a guy my size, and I managed to work my way down to 20 pounds underweight. Once upon a time, I did the no carbs thing. I have also had times where I could run 12 miles no problem, and days where a 30 second sprint feels like a trip to the hospital waiting to happen. And through it all I’ve learned what the crux for me has been over 10 years, and I think it is the same crux for many: I lacked consistency.
I never learned to give myself, or my body, time to adapt
Even in the times when I was on years-long workout kicks, I was never consistent. One month it was pure cardio, the next it was all about muscle confusion. I never learned to give myself, or my body, time to adapt because you don’t often think that your body is unique to some extent in how it reacts to physical work. What works for the Red Bull drinking dude across the street very-well may be true for him, but that doesn’t mean it’s true for everyone. And when your fitness-life is a sample platter of everyone else’s greatest hits, you never find what works for you.
Finding Your Fitness Rhythm
Wild, right? It sounds like a no-brainer, but it took me 8 years of trial-and-error to actually come to understand this simple idea. I finally realized that despite all of my sampling from other folks, the day had to come where I had a regimen of my own. And when I finally had the lightbulb moment, I looked back on years long struggles in the gym and in the kitchen and, begrudgingly, realized that this was my journey. My fitness journey was a foray into the journeys of others, until I finally found consistency. I finally started to notice that I was favoring certain workouts more than others, and that I was sticking to certain cardio routines whenever possible. I changed up sets and reps from what I had been prescribed and began to subconsciously piece together my own regimen. After all of these years, I’ve found consistency, and with that, I’ve found fitness-peace.
Where I am Now
Does that mean I’m in the best shape of my life right now? Hell no. It means that I feel a lot more zeroed-in on the path that will take me there, though. I don’t feel like a Frankenstein of everyone else’s fitness goals and ideals. I feel like a work in progress where I am dictating what the final product will be. The fact that I’ve had times where I couldn’t squat the bar, and times where I’ve squatted over 300 lbs isn’t so much a testament to my progress but a testament to my journey. It means that at some point or another in time, I had to hit every place in-between those two ends. And I hope that I can impart this on you, this advice and feedback from all places on the spectrum. So, today only, for the low, low price of $79.96, you can buy my…..
Kidding. I don’t want to end up being another one of the fitness talking heads, but I know it’s inevitable. I want to try to embrace it and make it something positive. Through the coming months I’ll keep you updated on my fitness journey and goals. I’ll let you know what’s worked for me – from dieting tips, to workout schedules, and to general form and function tips. Just remember, my advice is not a prescription, but a pamphlet. Read what you’d like, take away from it what you’d like, call BS where you’d like. This post may be about my journey, but I’m sure you and I both agree that yours is vastly more interesting.